Friday, July 31, 2009

Re-designed Blouse

This blouse was given to me a year or so ago. It is a "Worthington" brand from Penney's. I never found the high neck comfortable, though, so never wore it.

With a snip-snip of the shears, and a hank of elastic, I was able to re-design the blouse to make it a peasant blouse:
The neckline had enough fullness in it because of the previous pleats, so the elastic worked just fine without altering the fit of the sleeves. What do you think, Rebecca?

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Six Inches Deep in Mud

That is what happened to my favorite outfit. It is my fault entirely, for I should have changed before I went out into the garden. That evil hose enjoys whipping around an staining my clothing when I least expect it. One stain leads to another (and fortunately you cannot see them so well in photographs!), and with the discovery that the fabric is starting to wear out, too, I can no longer wear my favorite jumper anywhere but the garden. I mourn for that fact- since this is the softest garment I have and the perfect pink.

(the back)

I made this "regency jumper" from the Sensibility Regency Gown pattern. I adjusted it quite a bit, and added an invisible zipper instead of buttons. It fit perfectly, and was oh so comfortable.

Jumpers get a bad rap. In my opinion, they are very comfortable and allow for freedom of movement. You can change your blouse to suit your mood (all the ways I am fond of wearing it are shown in these photos). The only reason a jumper would be "frumpy" looking is if it was one of those low-waisted affairs, or if the color was drab and the materials ugly.

With the demise of my favorite, some new dresses were in order. The summer is going by quickly so I needed a very fast dress design to use. I decided not to make another Regency jumper at this time, because I was afraid I would still be bogged down in trying to decipher my specialized adjustments by the time winter rolled around.

But I may regret that... here is the jumper with a blouse I found in a department store that just matched!

These peasant blouses were on clearance, and are perfect for wearing under a jumper. I got one in pink...


...and blue.

I hope you enjoy seeing all my sewing projects!

Cottage Dresses

That sounds so much nicer than "house dresses," don't you think?
(I have not seen any "Cottage Dresses" for sale around here for homemakers, so if you ever see that phrase written on a label, remember you saw it here first! )
What is a "Cottage Dress?" It is a very comfortable dress, allowing freedom of movement, with the ability to adjust it to be looser if needed. It is made of soft cottons that only get softer with use. It is a pretty, feminine dress, done in colors and prints that make you happy. It is a dress that looks good enough to wear to the post office, but isn't too fancy, so that when the baby spits up on you, the toddler smears jelly on you, the older child plops a mud pie in your lap, etc. that you would have ruined something expensive.

"Cottage Dresses"

I decided to use what was in my stash, and match up what I could to make a complete dress. I chose a pattern that pulled over the head, with no zippers or buttons to fool with, and no gathers. I cut 6 dresses from the same pattern, hoping that I could "assembly line" sew them to some degree, my goal being to be done in a week.

Well, of course it took three weeks longer than I had anticipated.

The patterns I chose were very easy, but the adjustments made to each dress and the details added took extra time. And life must go on whether I am sewing or not... laundry and dishes have to be done and sewing has to wait for spare time.

Professional seamstresses beware: the rest of these posts may curl your hair. I am all for shortcuts in sewing and am not very precise!

Note: I combined two patterns from Butterick, the top from this one and the skirt from another Butterick, that had box pleats instead of gathers to take up fulness in the skirt.

Planning Cards for Shopping

Trying to be as frugal as possible, I took the scraps of material that I had, and the smaller yardage, and measured out what I could get from them to make sleeves, or a bodice, or a border, etc. to make my dresses. Then I took a swatch from each of them, and the color blocks on the selvage edge, and pasted them on an index card. A note on each card told me how much I had, how much I would need, and some design options.

I need at least 3.5 yards for a dress, preferably more. If I could not find anything to coordinate with my scraps in my stash, I could take these little cards shopping with me to find just what I needed. And that is what I did in some cases: I was able to take this yardage (above), which was enough for a skirt and sleeves, and find some coordinating material on the bargain table at the store. All I needed was a yard to complete a dress.

I had a yard of this calico, and I found a perfect color match at the store, only needing 2 & 1/2 yards to complete a dress.

Blue Cottage Dress

The ties have decorative stitching to coordinate with the other trim.

The sleeves have a strip of the calico, plus some decorative stitching.

When I was finished with the dress, I found the bodice was too plain, so with a contrasting thread, I used some of the decorative stitches on my machine to make a design.

A zig-zag scallop, a thick straight stitch, and some little cross-stitches were used.

Decorative stitching sews up the hem.

Here is how the bodice decoration was done:

First, I used a teacup to trace around for some gentle curves.

Then I laid tracing paper over the teacup curves, traced the design, cut around the tracing, and....

...flipped the tracing paper over and traced around the edge to get the lines on the other side. From there I just stitched along the lines, then the next decorative stitch or thread color was a presser-foot edge away from the last line, etc.

Cream & Calico Cottage Dress

For this Cottage Dress, I decided to do something different than adding ties, and did tabs and buttons instead.

Close up of the bodice above. I did no research on vintage styles, but the tabs strike me as a sort of 1920-ish detail.Close up of decorative stitches above and below

The dress at work.

Purple Jumper

This has turned out to be one of my favorite Cottage Dresses.

I used up some metallic thread I had left over from a project to stitch around the neckline.

Here is the jumper with the peasant blouse. Looks like something out of The Sound of Music, doesn't it?

The ties can just be done in a knot in the back.... the bow is not really "in style" anymore. But I like the bow anyway:)

Here is how I made the tie: if you sew, you will recognize this piece. It is a scrap left over from cutting the skirt. I did not have much fabric left after cutting out the jumper, so I just hemmed up this piece, gathered the wide end, and sewed it to the front of the bodice, over the box pleats.

All of the dress bodices are fully lined, but this one needed a facing. It is too confusing for me to turn a pull-over-the-head dress into a jumper and figure out how to turn the lining out (if you have ever made a lined vest, you'll know what I mean), so I just traced the armhole to make the facing. Facings are not my favorite thing to sew. That is why I line my bodices. Later on I will show you how I got out of more facings:)

Down on the Farm

I enjoyed experimenting with a twin needle on my machine. This fabric was very light weight and lent itself nicely to pin-tucks. As this dress started to go together, I thought it looked so plain! The sleeves made it look even duller. Somebody may not have a problem with it, but I decided it needed a burst of color. I also decided to turn it into a jumper. Here you see this dress in the designing stage. It looks rather awful now, but you have to use your imagination. I decided the material could not support the weight of a pocket, so that element was out. But the border and the trim could stay.

Here is the result! The bodice was lined (as I was going to add sleeves) and so to turn it into a jumper and add trim at the same time, I made my own bias tape and sewed it around the raw edges of the sleeve, and the finished edge of the neckline. No facings this time.

To add the border on the skirt, I cut a section out the skirt bottom, used that section as a pattern to cut the print border, and sewed the border to the skirt and the bottom of the skirt back on.

Here is the jumper with the peasant blouse.

A close-up of the bias edging.

A close-up of the border.